CAPE TOWN – Advocate Dali Mpofu has called the campaign to have Kagiso Rabada cleared to play against Australia a “team effort” after the Proteas fast bowler won his appeal against a two-Test suspension on Tuesday.
Rabada was sanctioned by ICC match referee Jeff Crowe to three demerit points and a fine of 50% of his match fee for an incident involving Australian captain Steve Smith in the second Test at St George’s Park in Port Elizabeth.
The 22-year-old paceman was deemed by Crowe to have made “inappropriate and deliberate physical contact” with Smith when the two players brushed shoulders after Rabada dismissed the right-hander lbw, and screamed in celebration as he walked towards the batsman.
Mpofu headed up the legal team that attended the appeal hearing on Monday, which lasted over six hours.
But on Tuesday, independent judicial commissioner Michael Heron QC of New Zealand found that he was not “comfortably satisfied” that Rabada intended to make contact, and found him not guilty of a Level 2 breach of the ICC code of conduct.
“It was really a Team effort! Many Thanks to CSA CEO Thabang Moroe, Attorneys David Becker & Matt Kemp, My juniors,Adv Steven Budlender & Adv Kerusha Pillay, Yusuf Peer, Captain Faf du Plessis, Cool Cat Doc Moosajee, Mostly OUR World Number One bowler:MyMan KG Rabada #RabadaMustPlay” Mpofu, who was praised by the public on social media, tweeted on Tuesday.
It was really a Team effort!
Many Thanks to CSA CEO Thabang Moroe
Attorneys David Becker & Matt Kemp
My juniors,Adv Steven Budlender & Adv Kerusha Pillay
Captain Faf du Plessis
Cool Cat Doc Moosajee
Mostly OUR World Number One bowler:MyMan KG Rabada🏏#RabadaMustPlay pic.twitter.com/wu1Wjv6Q2y
Heron did find Rabada guilty of conduct contrary to the spirit of the game.
“I consider the conduct was inappropriate, lacked respect for his fellow player and involved non-deliberate and minor contact. The actions contravened the principle that a dismissed batsman should be left alone,” Heron said in issuing Rabada with one demerit point and a fine of 25% of his match fee.
Rabada now has seven demerit points to his record, which is one short of the eight that would automatically result in a two-Test suspension.
“I would particularly like to thank our legal team, led by Advocate Dali Mpofu and supported by the legal firm of David Becker and Associates, for the job they have done after having to accept the brief at unavoidably short notice. This is our first ICC appeal that has been successful,” Moroe said in a statement on Tuesday.
“The key issue is whether Mr Rabada made ‘inappropriate and deliberate physical contact’ with Mr. Smith. I am not ‘comfortably satisfied’ that Mr. Rabada intended to make contact and I therefore find him not guilty of the charge under 2.2.7." - Right Honourable Michael Heron QC pic.twitter.com/aFVR3OKdmq
“It has also been extremely gratifying to acknowledge the support we have received from members of the public, as well as the business and legal fraternities, and we are extremely appreciative of this. It augurs well for the Newlands Test match, which has always been extremely well supported.
“It is now important that everybody gets the focus back where it belongs, on the game of cricket.
“We have witnessed a compelling series between two highly competitive and skilful teams that is locked 1-1 at the halfway stage, and is attracting a global audience.
“I am sure all our fans and other stakeholders are looking forward to a very exciting continuation of the series at two of our iconic Test-match venues.”
But now the World No 1-ranked bowler in the five-day arena is free to lead the Proteas attack against Australia in the third Test at Newlands on Thursday, with the series locked at 1-1.
And remember that Rabada is in red-hot form, having taken 11/150 in the PE game to be named the Man of the Match.